ATYRAU, Kazakhstan – The North Caspian Operating Co. (NCOC) has completed the facilities for initial oil production from the giant Kashagan field in the Caspian Sea, 80 km (50 mi) southeast of Atyrau.
Due to the project’s size and complexity – the location is in ultra-shallow, ice-prone water in the Kazakh sector, with an initial high reservoir pressure of 770 bar (11,168 psi) – the start-up process involves a long sequence of steps leading to first production, progressively ramping up to the intended levels. This sequence includes completion of each module, assurance that each module operates safely according to design specifications, and assurance that all production systems are operational.
Once all targets are met, the integrated system will receive first oil and gas from a depth of 4,200 m (13,779 ft) below the North Caspian Sea, delivered through eight wells on the artificial A Island. Both the wells and the pipeline system are ready for production, while the offshore production and treatment facilities on theD Island are in the final stages of commissioning.
At the onshore Bolashak Processing Facility, sweet gas has been introduced from the Makat gas grid (Kashagan’s gas contains high levels of hydrogen sulfide and some carbon dioxide). Employing sulfur-free gas is said to be a critical step before real gas and fluids from the production wells are allowed into the system.
During 2013/2014, production will climb steadily toward the design capacity, with eventually 20 wells delivering 180,000 b/d in the first stage, ramping up (following gas reinjection) to 370,000 b/d in the second stage. Currently, 11 wells have been drilled with 29 more to follow for Phase 1. To date the project has cost $40.6 billion.
The Kashagan field spans an area of 5,600 sq km (2,162 sq mi), in a water depth of 3-6 m (9.8-19.6 ft). Following discovery in 2000, the field was declared commercial in 2004. The reservoir has an estimated 35 Bbbl of in-place oil, of which 9-13 Bbbl could be recoverable.
NCOC operates on behalf of seven partners: KMG (KazMunayGas) 16.81%, Eni 16.81%, ExxonMobil 16.81%, Shell 16.81%, Total 16.81%,ConocoPhillips 8.40%, and INPEX 7.56%.
Aside from Kashagan, other assets within the North Caspian PSA contract area include the Kalamkas Sea, Kashagan South-West, Aktote, and Kairan fields.